I’d been up since 3 am. Gathered my day pack together and set out for the Park entrance. It was 4:30 when I got in line with the rest of the cars. How many preceded me? Unknown. How far to the gate? Unknown.
It was so pitch black I couldn’t even see the sheer rock walls next to the road. They loomed hundreds of feet above me. But that amazing Navaho Sandstone, with its colors ranging from white, to orange, to red to purple gray, wouldn’t be revealed until Grandfather Sun lifted that veil of darkness about an hour later.
The many geological forces that predominate these formations are spread all over the South West. Volcanic activity exploding with pyroclastic flows of igneous rock. Layers of wind-blown sand rest in shallow waters forming sedimentary stones. Great upheavals and high pressures add metamorphic rock to the mix.
Then Nature, the Primordial Artist, wields a River as knife and brush, in this case the Virgin River, to cut through these rock layers. Differential erosion leaving such beautiful formations that they must be named. The Great White Throne, Checkerboard Mesa, Cougar Mountain, Horse Ranch Mountain, Angels Landing, The Organ, Twin Brothers Peak, The Court of the Patriarchs, The Sentinel, The West Temple, The Towers of the Virgin, The Altar of Sacrifice, The Watchman, Weeping Rock, The Mountain of the Sun, and The Emerald Pools . . .
Being in line was important. COVID had shut down much of the Park and the Rangers were only allowing 400 cars in each day. When they finally did open the gate the stream of cars barreled through with one destination in mind. None would stop until we arrived at the Temple of Sinawava.
This is launch point for the coveted hike through the “Narrows.”
And as with all beauty here, danger lurks in the shadows. In the distant cloud formations. This slot canyon’s walls are so narrow that a heavy rain can turn into a flash flood raising the water level twenty-five feet in just fifteen minutes. Many had drowned here . . .
But, before I go farther, we must return to the Road before making that hike.
Some of the places I traveled to this past summer were “revisitations,” not only to enjoy those places once again, but to erase negative Karmic Traces left behind from so many years ago. In fact, I would explore these same places much more thoroughly traveling solo, absent the companions that defined and limited the boundaries of Body and Spirit on that particular timeline. I would also be off on other new and exciting exploits, which you’ll hopefully enjoy reading about as soon as I coalesce those thoughts into the written word. At least I hope so.
Anyway, after rafting the Grand Canyon, I was off to Zion!
And by Zion, I mean the National Park, not the placename in the Hebrew Bible for Jerusalem or the Land of Israel. But part of what I consider to be the “chosen land,” nevertheless.
Zion is located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert. To get there, I’d generally be traveling NorthWest. And upwards! I’d crest on the roadways at 9900 feet. It seems the upper stone layer of the Grand Canyon, the Kiabab Limestone, lies at the bottom of the layers of Zion’s Canyons.
Departing from Marble Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs, the Magnum Fire’s menacing flames and dense smoke meant I had to take that Northern route to get there, which was convenient for making a brief stop at Horseshoe Bend. Amazing to see the Colorado River’s artisanally-carved etchings as it crawls through and cuts deeply into the various rock layers. Exposing, here, the brilliantly-colored Navaho Sandstone, lining the full depth, 1000 feet, of the Grand Canyon’s walls at this crick in the River’s flow.
From there, I continued NorthWest and diverted through Dixie National Forest, rolled on through Cedar City and dropped South to Hurricane, Utah. This would set me up to circle up to the South entrance of Zion. And this was a good thing, well sort of. For I was curious as to what had happened to Dixie in the forty-four years that had passed since my last and only other visit to what was an obscure paradise.
And I was looking forward to seeing it again since I had such fond memories of the place.
Dixie was totally, and thankfully, primitive on my last pass through, and that included having no developed roads. Not even gravel! Where the only vehicle passing through before myself and my companions, literally, was a bulldozer.
As you can imagine, this whole area had undergone a massive transformation.
Paved roads meant more traffic, tourist developments, and to my greatest surprise an area of sanctioned total destruction. It was specially designated for OHVs, ORVs, OHMs, and ATVs.
If you’re not familiar with those abbreviations, they basically describe all types of off-road vehicles.
Now I suppose it is better to designate one area for this type of “recreational” activity so people don’t destroy the entire National Forest or the surrounding lands, but I still find it a bit disturbing. And it’s not just from the damage and total defoliation of the Earth, it’s the fact that there seems to be a rather high equivalency with those engaged in this activity and with discarding their waste wherever it suits them. No regard for Mother Earth at all. I’ve have never seen such a trashed-out area in my life within the confines of a National Forest.
It will soon all be turned to rubble and erode away with no roots in the ground to hold the soil. Perhaps a future landfill.
Why do people need to “recreate” in this fashion? Another Rabbit Hole I’m afraid, for another day, perhaps. But I’m sure those polluting Souls will definitely have some Karma to burn off.
And it’s here where I must begin my time-jumping, and try to explain some of the interlinkings. I don’t believe I left behind any negative Karmic Tracings at Dixie National Forest during my visit from so many years ago. In hindsight, and with more study, I believe I can say that any Traces formed during that visit “self-liberated.” That is to say, I was in that state of awareness referred to as “Rigpa,” or the “clear light of the mind.” A state of mind I find hard to maintain but, at least for this time, no Karmic seeds were planted in my brain to grow into negative or unfortuitous consequences.
I can’t speak for the other members of that trip.
No, my pass-through this time around was more for remembrance. And I did locate the general area where I enjoyed leisurely walks through the meadow and pulled fish from the stream. It is now dubbed “Deer Valley.”
This time around, the score cards would be reversed. I’d not stop at Deer Valley. That would be the drive-through. Instead, the destination was Zion, the place we had passed up so may years ago. I wished to experience a bit of its majesty; unlike the way we had discarded that opportunity before.
Much like the way, people discard their trash over the land at Dixie.
Now Zion is one of those amazing places that sort of sneaks up you. The park covers an expanse of 229-square-miles and upon entering its borders you’ll find yourself surrounded by mountains and deep canyons. Zion Canyon, which is breath-taking , is 15 miles long and at its deepest is 2,640 feet deep. Carved, as noted, by the Virgin River.
With my limited time, I was determined to do at least one thing here – hike part of the Narrows.
I had been recognizing a theme running throughout our National Parks System. It seems that the administrators, whomever they be, attempt to create unique “attractions” in each Park to allure tourists’ dollars. And these “features” aren’t always perfectly “safe” to experience, as is demonstrated with the Grand Canyon where about a dozen people die each year.
And nationwide, including all of the Parks, six people die each weak, or almost a death each and every day.
I couldn’t find any conclusive, total numbers for deaths in Zion, but the means of dying are readily apparent. One could drown in the slot canyons should the weather turn or drown in one of the various emerald pools. Otherwise, it would be a fall. And it is Angels Landing that immediately comes to mind. Maybe not so angelic, the hike there is known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the US. The top part of that trail has sheer 1000-foot drop-offs, and you must cross a very narrow land-bridge with a metal chain to hold onto.
Not the place to try for a selfie.
My hike in the Narrows may seem a bit anticlimactic. You see, you are really just hiking, quite literally, in the Virgin River. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to judge the depth of the water, and all of the River’s rock beneath the surface is unstable and bears a nice coating of algae. It’s like walking on large, very slick marbles and it becomes a never-ending twisting of the ankles.
And twisting my right ankle I did indeed do. Quite badly. Of course, being stubborn, I continued to the three-and-a-half-mile point, before turning around from the pain. If you remember, I was also nursing cracked ribs and a busted up left arm and leg. It was painful, but I guess you could say painfully beautiful.
Here’s some pics to better relay my story, as only pics can:
My injuries limited what all I could do here, but at least I had the chance to experience much more than on my first pass through this region. And I offered my many thanks to the Spirits and Ancestors that may reside here.
This may not seem like much of a recompense to burn up any negative Karmic Traces, but I had always regretted not stopping here, for at least a breath or two, before when we passed through. I thought our actions were a bit disrespectful. And I now felt as though I had paid my respects to the former occupants of this Sacred Land.
If you remember, I mentioned that the Temple of Sinawava was the launch point for hiking the Narrows. This is named after the Coyote God of the Paiutes, Sinawava, who was the brother of the Creator God, Esa, the Wolf. While Coyote is said to be a trickster, he is also a benefactor to the People and brought them fire and taught them of the Arts of Civilization.
One legend relates that Coyote traveled East across the Ocean. Took a wife and had many children. He returned to this continent bringing his children in a willow basket jug, and he ended up spilling many of them across the land. By the time he reached the Great Basin, only two children remained. He released them and they became the Ancestors to the Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute), the Numa (Northern Paiute), the Newe (Western Shoshone), and the Washeshu (Washoe) Peoples. These now displaced inhabitants that are replaced by us tourists.
Now as promised, I want to relay some other Karmic Traces stories. You might say that over the past couple of months with my posts on the blog that I was folding in the stories of my trips’ locations. Time-jumping from the first destination to the last; to the second destination to the second to the last destination; etc.
Well here goes. Time to talk about Joshua Tree and its relation to Madera Canyon. Next time.
Photos: I took all of these photos at Zion. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I hope to make another visit in the future.